Thursday, June 11, 2009

A lazy June walk through downtown

I like June in San Diego, California. It's comfortably cool. It's cloudy. The tourists aren't here yet and the flowers and trees are still glowing in their not-that-dusty-yet new leaves and flowers. From this, you would rightfully conclude that I'm not a native Californian. Frankly, I find it endlessly irritating how the weathermen here keep talking wistfully about the prospect of a sunny heatwave at the end of the week... You know, the same sort of thoughts that occur to fishermen in the Grand Banks when they hear on the radio the voice of the forecaster gleefully reporting that the malevolent hurricane has now veered 'safely' off to sea...

Anyhow. I got to go out a bit in the comfortably hazy weather earlier in the week and took a few video and photo shots with my little Kodak camera... and putting them together into the video below. The quality is a bit iffy (after all I took it with a photo camera and not a camcorder), but it should give you an idea of what it's like to walk around Downtown San Diego in June.

We start at the little park on the bayfront between the famously sail-roofed San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton Hotel. My favorite haunt, actually... It's nicely quiet there most of the time even when there is a big
convention going on or a fair at the Embarcadero Marina Parks or Seaport Village nearby. I won't be visiting there much once the cloud cover leaves town in summer... No shade anywhere for a smorg to hide in!

From the top of the Convention Center you can see quite a lot of the bay and Coronado 'not an' Island on the opposite shore. Just north of the Convention Center is the curved reflective towers of the Marriott Hotel and its marina, flanked by the Embarcadero Marina Parks (north and south). The blue bridge is, of course, the San Diego-Coronado Bridge... 2 miles long and 200 ft tall at its dogleg bend (to allow battleships to pass under). Coming down the north side of the Convention Center gives you a great view of the Historic Gaslamp Quarter (and a bit of Petco Park baseball stadium, home of the San Diego Padres). This is the part of town where hip young folks come to party and keep the brewery industry in business. They aren't very good at keeping all the brew in for more than a few hours, though. You really have to keep an eye on the sidewalk when you walk around here in the morning hours
to keep from stepping in stains of various degrees of yuckiness (made by man and his best friends ).

The Gaslamp Quarter is where the trendy restaurants and boutique shops are (not as chic as what you'd see in La Jolla or on Coronado, but also not quite as expensive). Anchoring the northwest corner of the area is psychedelic Horton Plaza... the colorful mess of a building where you wouldn't want to be lost in just when you have a real need to use the restroom. Taking the elevator to the top floor (Level 5) and you can have a good rooftop look of the surrounding downtown, too. The angular tall buildings of the Columbia Districts to the north really aren't that tall... The Phillips screwdriver top one is One America Plaza, the tallest building in downtown at 500 ft (which is right at the building limit since Lindberg Field, San Diego's international airport, is really close by).

The last few seconds of the clip takes you southeast of downtown proper to the border of Logan and Sherman Height neighborhoods where you'll find historic Villa Montezuma (Est. 1887) at the southwest corner of 20th Avenue and K Street. It's one of the few historic buildings in the area that the San Diego Historical Society is still taking care of (the lack of funding had caused them to drop Marston House north of Balboa Park a while ago ). It costs $5 to get in for adults and $4 for seniors...I didn't go in there (the shots were taken on Sunday afternoon when the place was closed). It is looking rather worn - with cracks on the stained glass windows and the terracotta exterior is chipped and look ready to fall out. And man, does that yard need some work or what? It is still a magnificent looking Queen Anne house, though, and well worth the entry fee to visit when you are in downtown area. It isn't too long a walk from the Trolley line. You can actually see Petco Park from there, just across I-5.

I'd love to move back to the more leisurely Midwest one day, but man... I'll really miss those windsurfing seagulls... and a few other things.

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